Tj comes in the bathroom this morning while I'm getting dressed and tells me about a conversation he & Peyton had: Peyton...in a very profound tone: "Dad, do you know what would happen if a comet were to hit the Earth?" Dad: (Pictures in his mind)
Peyton: "You won't have to dig as far to get the gold!"
It was 2002 when TJ and I were in Las Vegas having our first discussion about being ready to start a family. We giggled a lot about the possibilities and also had a little fear between the giggles. Little did we know the difficulty we would have in trying to conceive.
For 3 years we went through every infertility drug there was, every treatment, a surgery, an incredibly painful procedure that involved injecting a dye through my fallopian tubes (about ripped the machine out of the wall) and a lot of tears. I'd married a man that was the most deserving man of being a father I'd ever seen and here I was an infertile dead end, or so I felt. Week after week & month after month of tests, probing, ultra sounds, drawing blood and medications we were told our last option was invetro. If you know anything about inventro you know it ain't cheap. We took that option & Tj got really good at giving shots.
I felt like I was made of glass, afraid I'd do something that would cause the process not to work so I was very careful that month. The time had come to go to the Drs office and find out if we'd produced any eggs. There were 22! SCARRYYY! 8 were viable. We scheduled to have them removed (weird). Afterward they "fertilized" them, only 3 took & could be used so we took our chances and had all 3 embryos placed and I resumed living in my glass house for the next few weeks. (here is a picture of the 3)
We headed to our appointment to have more blood taken and get results. We became friends with the ladies that took my blood so often. They knew us by name and were so supportive. We went into the office and I could tell by the look on my Drs face that it wasn't good. He said, "I'm sorry to tell you but none of the embryos implanted, you're not pregnant". I cried that day, went home and crawled in bed and just cried. That was it, our last chance...gone just like that. Could it really be true that we would have no children running around our house ever?
The next month we decided to try on our own and let God have the last word. A few weeks came and went and then I noticed I hadn't had "the monthly"...but after so many tests, so many failures and negatives I refused to take a test. Just thought it was one more new thing going wrong with me. So I scheduled another Drs. appointment to find out what was wrong this time. Figured it was all the fertility medication, shots or something that was jacking up my body & was sure they'd give me something to help get my body back on track. Went in...more blood drawn and waited in the exam room with TJ & my Dr. Then suddenly the door flew open and the ladies that we'd grown so close to that took my blood so often gave something to my Dr. He looked at it and shoved it in my face...a little square thing I'd never seen before. I tried to figure out what the thing was, but couldn't so I said...um what is it? He said it's a pregnancy test, YOU'RE PREGNANT! I shook my head in disbelief looking back and forth at TJ, my Dr and the little ladies giggling at the door and then it hit me...I was pregnant! I cried and laughed and cried and laughed almost hysterically. They did an ultrasound immediately and we saw our little nugget and heard the little heart beat. Wow...it was true. Then fear struck...my biggest fear, what if something goes wrong. I asked my Dr. when I would know that the baby was healthy and everything was okay. He said at the next ultrasound at about 18weeks. I couldn't hold my breath that long...but sure wanted to.
We left and told our families, they were overjoyed to say the least! Time passed and weeks drug by. A parent at the gym told me that she had a friend that was studying to be an Ultrasound Tech and needed hours on the machine if I wanted to get an ultrasound earlier than 18 weeks. Well, hell yea! Of course I did! So at 16weeks went in and found out our little nugget was a little girl :)
At my scheduled 18 week appointment TJ and I with my Mom and Stepdad all piled in the Ultrasound room to see our first little one and get confirmation that everything looked great. The Ultrasound woman did her exam, confirmed she was a girl and we all laughed at her little movements on the screen...astonished that we could see her so clearly.
She said she was going to have the Dr. come in and talk with us and then we'd be good to go. We chatted and giggled waiting for the Dr. When he came in the very first thing he said was his name and that he saw in my charts how long it took us to conceive and... "I believe your baby has Trisomy 13". I'm pretty sure my heart stopped and after I caught my breath said..."what is that, like Downs Syndrome"? He said, "no, unfortunately it's much worse please get dressed and come to my office and we will talk more". The room fell silent, no more giggles or smiles.
We entered his office, me trying to be the stone faced brave new Mom. He went on to explain that Trisomy 13 was a condition in which my daughter would not live. She would be still born or if she did make it through birth would pass within the first month of life. He continued, but I never heard a word after that. I was in shock...in my mind I knew it to be true. I was flawed wasn't I? I couldn't conceive a baby, not a healthy one. It was my nightmare coming true. It was a trick, I was too undeserving of having a baby at all.
I remember walking down the halls of the Drs. office, I could barely see through the tears in my eyes and all of the nurses were standing in the doorways staring at me. They had a look of horror on their faces, almost like they wanted to say something to me, but couldn't. I was a freak, a side show...or so the thought entered my mind.
We went home that day and I crawled in bed and cried and cried and cried, held my stomach where my little nugget was to be for as long as I could keep her there and just cried. It was more so a nervous breakdown and a self torture, something I'm pretty good at. I said everything I could in my mind to make me feel like the worst person on earth..and it worked. My Mom came and laid beside me and tried so hard to pull me out of it, but I was already there. I was nothing like the strong people I read about that when they get devastating news they glorify God and know that it's their purpose and although they plan to fight they are calm in knowing God's plan. No, I was nothing like that at all. I was a mess...exactly the person everyone says they expect you to be when one hears news like that. Strong...nope not at all a word to describe me.
I vaguely remembered the Dr saying, "do not go home and get online, you will only find aweful stories that will make things worse". After my Mom left my room, I pulled out my laptop. I am a "need to know" person. I have to know what to expect in every situation, always planning for outcomes. So, I googled Trisomy 13 and spent the next few hours crying my eyes out at the pictures and websites dedicated to dead babies and thinking about tiny caskets and a funeral. More self torture. Then I decided to google what the Dr said my baby had.. a Choroid Plexus Cyst...don't think I could ever forget that name. It was a cyst on her brain that made him believe she had the condition. While sitting in his office and going in and out of my mind torture I remembered my parents asking all kinds of questions...not really remembering what they were or what the answers were, my Mom reminded me. They asked what were the signs of T13. He said, clinched hands, clubbed feet, misshaped head, misshaped organs, thick nucal fold (thick skin behind the neck), cysts on the brain among other things. My parents pressed him and wanted to know if he'd seen these things in the ultrasound. He said he only saw the cyst on the brain...and only one cyst.
I did my research and found that CPC's are common these days in most ultrasounds due to better technology in the equipment used. As the brain forms and folds a cyst can sometimes form, but usually goes away although there are millions of people still walking around with them. That made me feel better but I went through the next 2 weeks in a fog leading up to my appointment with a genetic specialist to confirm or deny my Drs claims. My family and I went in and watched woman after woman leaving the specialists office in tears, holding their bellies. I was not ready when they called my name, but I needed to know. My ultrasound tech turned out to be a woman I worked with years before and who would later bring her daughter to my gym, Georgia. :) She wasn't allowed to tell me much about what she saw on the screen. I had an amniocentesis done (a big needle through my belly to draw amniotic fluid out and test it).
Two even longer weeks went by before the results came in. I must have been a mess to deal with from both my staff and family and probably my gym parents as well. We went in for the results and she says she's not concerned at all about the CPC...it was almost gone, but I had low amniotic fluid and the baby had Pyelectasis (fluid on the kidneys) she was "very concerned about my pregnancy". Great, a whole new set of concerns that we didn't have before. Did this mean she really did have T13? It was not confirmed or denied at the specialist. So, I spent the rest of my pregnancy doing ultrasounds (and getting thumbs up from the baby in every one...we began to look for it after a while and considered it her sign to us). I resolved myself to the fact that I was having a baby regardless of her condition and if I held her through life or death she was mine and my gift from God. I was a mother either way and the joy of having this baby would not be taken from me any longer by something she may or may not have. (check out the thumbs up in this ultrasound)
On September 6, 2005 she was 9 days late and I sat in my Drs office (a different one from the first) begging to be induced. He obliged and sent me to the hospital. I got pitocin (a drug that induces labor) and if you've ever wondered what a gutted deer feels like...that's it. An epidural and 9hrs later, TJ delivered his daughter with the okay from our mid-wife. He laid her on my belly and I counted each finger, each toe, rubbed her round head and checked her for any signs of deformity. She was perfect in every way. She did not have Trisomy 13. The nurses took her off to the nursery and bathed her, brought her back with the cutest little blonde mohawk and said she was the prettiest new born they'd ever seen.
I am a "tell it like it is" person. I've never liked sugar coating things (although I've learned most people want the sugar). I prefer to be told the truth, plain and simple and I truly believed the Dr was doing so in telling me she had Trisomy 13. Luckily my parents did not. They pressed for more answers and when they heard him say she didn't have any other signs of Trisomy 13 besides the cyst, they clung to that. Abortion was a topic the Dr. brought up during our appointment, although it was never an option for us. I wonder to this day why a Dr. would go so far as to tell you your child has a terminal condition and suggest abortion when Drs are wrong all the time and he confirmed knowing how long it took us to conceive and that she had a very minor sign of the condition. I've thought often of sending him a letter with my daughters picture and explaining to him what he did to me over the duration of my pregnancy and showing him the face he thought I should abort. How many females are told things like this, freak out and end a perfectly healthy pregnancy because of a Drs. misinformation and suggestion? I shutter to think. I remember the nurses faces as I left the Drs office that day and now looking back it was odd that they all came out of their rooms and watched me so intently as I left. I now feel they wanted to tell me they felt that the Dr had gone too far in his assessment telling me she had Trisomy 13 over one little common cyst he saw. I know they wanted to tell me something, but knew they couldn't.
For the first few months after Peyton's birth I had Post Partum Depression. I'm pretty sure it was due to all of the stress...and self torture over the months of pregnancy and TJ and I decided to take a small step back from our business and delegate responsibilities. I would later learn that some we thought were friends of ours, called it "the year of Peyton" through my pregnancy & PPD....it was not meant as a compliment.
Today Peyton is 7yrs old. She's beautiful, funny, smart as hell, big-time Daddy's girl, loves to write (wonder who she gets that from) and full of life and energy. I am her mother and I would have accepted whatever God's plan was for her back then. I'm so grateful that God had bigger plans for her and needed her to be here much longer than the day she was born. I am grateful that my parents never believed she had anything wrong with her and pushed for more answers. I am grateful that abortion was never an option for us.
My little blonde hair, blue eyed, spunky little girl will surely change this world in some big way. She's a firecracker so the world better get ready. Happy Birthday little lady, we love you more than life itself. Every year at this time I think about what we went through to get you and I'd go through it all again just to have you. Wouldn't we all.
Ever see a new idea someone had, an invention or something and you thought to yourself "why didn't I think of that?". I had that moment this weekend.
Growing up the daughter & granddaughter of avid Yard Salers, I was subjected to embarrassing treasure hunts by my Mom & Grandmother. They would get the newspaper on Fridays and go through the yard sale section circling the ones that "looked good" and mapped out their trips for the following Saturday morning. I was the kid in the back seat of the car having an anxiety attack that someone would see me or recognize me at their home hunting through their old stuff and think I was some "trash hunter".
I've learned over the years that one man's trash is another man's treasure. Not only that, but why spend full price for something when you can get the same thing in great condition for much much much less? Who's the smart one here the full price buyer or the bargain hunter? Now-a-days the popular shows on TV are Pawn Star, Storage Wars and American Pickers. All people trying to find treasure amongst someone else's "trash".
When I had Peyton she had most everything brand new and I notice my money FLEW out the window on things she barely even wore or played with. Give the girl a crayon and a box and she's entertained for hours! So, I learned with Dylan, I could buy 3 and 4 times the items and spend less at a resale store or yardsale and most of the items are brand names and still have the tags on them. (By the way, Peyton and Dylan LOVE yardsales, thanks to Grandma & Grandpa) I also learned that once you were done with the toys and clothes you could sale them back but most of the time you wouldn't get much for them.
This weekend as I cleaned out their closets and dressers I remembered a Facebook Yard Sale site and thought I'd give it a shot...post a couple things and just see if I could sell it. WELL...I couldn't post my items fast enough before they would sell. I had people asking me to sell more of the sizes I had and I even had TJ digging through the shed for his unused stuff to sell! I even posted a couple things I hadn't thought to sell and yep, sold em!
There is a whole underground bargain hunters code! Meeting places, ethics on the site, code words like "bump" and "ppu". I'm totally addicted to this new age yardsale! Already made some new friends and have people that want me to tag them in pics as my kids start outgrowing the clothes they are in now! I even discovered other more specific yard sale sites on Facebook: Outdoors items, Guy Stuff, Kids stuff specific & high end purses!
So, don't knock it before you try it! Besides in this economy we can all save some moola! I mean when you can buy a brand name item for $2 that normally costs $25...welcome to the Bargain Underground! :)
This weekend I spent a lot of time going through things, organizing and trying to declutter the house. I found a bin full of things I wanted to keep in a safe place...a memory box. I probably spent a good hour going through old pictures, crafts my kids have made and even found my first drivers license...WHOA! I pretty much rolled on the floor laughing at myself and my big poofy hair. Good times...good times.
Then I found a stack of papers and started reading and discovered they were old letters TJ and I wrote back and forth to each other when we were dating. He lived in SC, was finishing up college and his last season with his original cheerleaders. He came up one weekend in November 1999 to try to locate a building for his dream business he wanted to call East Carolina Cheerleading and Tumbling School, ECCATS. It was the name he'd picked out years earlier and a dream he'd had for the kids living in his community back home. A cheer gym...something he'd been laughed at about and told it would never work. That's when we "re-met". We'd gone to High School together, he was 2 grades older than me so I knew him and he knew me, but that was pretty much it back then.
Boy were we MUSHY! We were "that couple" talking about love and a life together, dreams of kids and a future. It was the greatest thing learning about someone through letters and phone calls. We had a long distance romance for at least the first 5 months of our relationship. It took him several weeks to even convince me to go out with him. I'd just gotten out of a relationship that went no where and I wasn't interested in more games and playboys. So, as cute as he was I didn't give him the time of day...until his insistent phone calls and begging (LOL) finally convinced me and I said "FINE, I'll go out with you"...fully expecting it to be the last time.
I'm so glad I did. We've never looked back. All the plans written on paper so long ago have come true. A bond built between us over years of hard work and commitment, hard times and devastation, good times and love, laughter and tears have seen us through it all. Twelve years have gone by like a breeze really. He still chases me around like two kids that just started dating. He still holds my hand the way I prayed the husband God picked for me would. He still loves me inspite of myself. And I, him.
A memory box (and now a blog) is a great thing to have for all of those things you just can't throw away or don't want to forget. Going through it every few years will remind you where you've been, where you're heading and why you make the choices you do. I'm grateful for the rock in my life that I call my husband. Although I am not perfect, far from it and I make my mistakes and learn from them I could not ask for a better husband and life partner.
From one of our letters:
"One day we will be that old couple sitting on the front porch in our rocking chairs, gray hair and all wrinkly".
Most nights before bedtime the kids beg either me or TJ to come snuggle with them in bed. Last night it was my turn. Dylan came into my room with a Thomas the Train blanket draped over his head like a Shepard herding sheep...(this is usually because he knows he's going to be told to go back to bed and he thinks the blanket makes him cute enough to not get in trouble...he's right). He said the same thing he says most nights, "can you come check on me"....which is code for "I don't wanna go to bed".
So, I told him I'd be right there. I waited a few minutes finished my evening Vi-Shake and went off to his room. I peeked at him and his eyes were closed, but without opening his eyes he said, "I was just resting my eyes until you got here Mom". He scooted over and said, "come snuggle with me". I grinned and snuggled right into his trap :)
He laid so still beside me, warm skin like his Daddy. I put my hand over his heart so I could feel it beating and he placed his tiny little hand on top of mine and locked his fingers between mine. So precious. He whispered to me, "you make my room smell good Mom".
How is it possible to love someone so much? How could anyone not believe there is a God after watching a woman grow a baby in her belly and then bring such an innocent being into life? How could I be so damn lucky?
We laid there like that for a while and I soaked in every second. "Mom"...a word I didn't think I'd hear earlier on in my marriage. 3 years of infertility treatments and a failed cycle of invetro. And now, I hear the sweetest things from my children and wonder what I did so right to be so blessed.
When I thought he was asleep, he whispered "Elephants are bigger than our house". Innocence, is a gift we get for a short time in our lives and when its gone we get to experience it with our children. I love the things children say and the way they see the world. I wish sometimes we could all go back to those days and have the simplest of concerns.
Only a few more minutes before my little man becomes Black Sky, the Ninja that super-kicks in his sleep. So I slid out of bed, covered him up and stared at my creation, smelled his hair, kissed his warm cheek and smelled his precious little boy breath. I am so blessed.
Thank you Lord for all of your gifts, I am so undeserving, but I am so grateful for the responsibilities you've given me and I will not let you down.